After training with some of the girls previously I was feeling nervous but in a good way. I had never played div 4 before so was expecting it to be an eye opener.
After getting ready we walked the field and discussed plans. The games are definitely more aggressive with a lot more paint being fired and fast paced with a fast turn around. At one point I’m sure I was wiped down, given more paint and told straight back on without really registering what just happened.
The whole day was an amazing experience made even better by the girls making me feel like I have been part of the team for years. I can’t wait to hopefully to it all again soon.
One thing that's been brilliant about the growth of our team is for the opportunity for players to get more involved in coaching our various squads. On Saturday, myself and Sophie took the opportunity to coach the Lionesses squad, having trained the layout extensively ourselves, we were excited to apply our knowledge.
We arrived early on Saturday to some dismal British weather, but the team were in great spirits and were soon kitted up walking the field. With the pandemic and local lockdowns, the team had no opportunity to train together prior to R1, and only Kat, Emma and Katie had played at all this season. We also faced the challenge of running a straight five, with Shelley and Zoe rounding out the roster.
We were first game on in the morning and so had no opportunity to scout Warped before the match began. We went in with a pretty standard gameplan, pushing the width on the snake side to control the tape and attacking through the bag side and centre. A penalty cost us the first point, but some excellent play from Shelley through the centre on the second point, combined with Warped taking a major penalty got us the second. Another brilliant centre play from Shelley saw us take the next point. We lost the fourth point taking it to a 2:2 draw with less than a minute to play, the game plan was to push if we took early kills, but otherwise play for the draw. As it happened, we were the ones that lost bodies early, but the girls did really well to close the game out for 2:2.
Next up we played Panthers, in the first point we lost early bodies, but Katie and Shelley did a great job of recognising the danger the Panthers snake player was posing and reacting early to control him. A couple of trade outs followed both bag and snake side, but Katie closed out the point to put us 1:0 up. The second point our break-shooting was on point, taking the bag side out early. Remembering the threat the snake player posed to us in the first point, Shelley made a smart move out to the snake corner, eliminating the snake player. With three players alive, we hit the buzzer but this was deemed a dirty hang, a major penalty and no point awarded. We started the third point of the match strong, but needed to be much more aggressive to counter the play through the centre from Lewis of the Panthers this point, and Panthers hit the buzzer. The fourth point of the game we shot one off the break, but also lost one ourselves, a penalty in the centre cost the Panthers and we were 2:1 up. With just over a minute left, we knew that Panthers were going to play aggressively and adjusted our gameplan accordingly. After some great team play and early moves made by Zoe down the bag side, Kat ran the point in for 3:1.
Our third game was against UK Ghost, these guys were a complete unknown to us but we had recognised that they played an aggressive game. We were unable to counter the speed of their play on the first point, and despite some great play in the second point we ultimately lost the match 0:2.
Our final pre-lim saw us face SAD, a regular match-up with us meeting in three divisions this season. The first point we lost bodies early, but quickly brought back the advantage. SAD countered with some very aggressive play in the second point, but received two penalties for dirty hangs, awarding us the point and meaning they would start with 3. SAD did not make it out in time for the final point meaning we took this match 3:0.
We were confident that our pre-lim showing had seen us through to the quarters, but with half the pre-lims still to play, we faced a long wait to find out who we would be playing. Myself and Sophie took advantage of this break in play to go and watch the teams we could be coming up against. We finished the pre-lims top of our bracket.
We drew Crusaders in the top 8, a team that we knew had been on fire all morning and unfortunately that was where our day ended, we didn't have an answer for their play and the match ended 0:2.
Despite the disappointing end to our day, I'm really proud of how all of the girls gelled together over the course of the event and am looking forward to building on our 6th place finish over the season.
Our very own Shelley Farmer even received the MVP "Beyond Clutch" award from CPPS, voted for by the live stream - massively deserved after some quality play.
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